Aaron Charney, Biglaw, David Braff, Gay, John Scheich, LeGal, Media and Journalism, Movies

Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: S&C Rallies Its Allies

Aaron Charney headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL.JPGThis morning brings some fresh news coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. ABC News, for example, has this story.
Most of the piece consists of background info, which ATL readers are already familiar with. But there is some new material concerning S&C and gay attorneys in general:

[T]he firm has a good reputation among gay lawyers. Among the 25 top law firms in New York surveyed in 2003, Sullivan & Cromwell had the highest percentage of gay, lesbian and transgender partners — almost 7 percent, although it ranked much lower — at 17th — for associates, which constitutes 1.48 percent of the total.

“Sullivan Cromwell is far from prejudiced in any way,” says John Scheich, the first vice president of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of New York, adding that the firm often buys a table at his group’s annual fundraising dinner dance. “I don’t know Aaron Charney or the details of his case, but if I had to line up on one side or the other, I would have to line up with David H. Braff [an openly gay partner at the firm] and Sullivan Cromwell.”

Watch out, Aaron. The gay legal mafiosos are circling their wagons. Tables at those gay fundraisers cost small fortunes — and S&C is calling in its chits.
Sullivan & Cromwell itself will probably be tight-lipped about the case, since it would be unseemly for such a white-shoe law firm to engage in an aggressive public relations effort. But they will surely work behind the scenes to get friendly gay leaders, such as John Scheich, to speak out in their defense. (Cf. Hillary Clinton’s media strategy, in which she doesn’t criticize enemies herself, leaving such dirty work to Howard Wolfson and other minions.)
The ABC article also contains some interesting info about the plight of gay lawyers in the profession more generally. Some excerpts, after the jump.

ABC predictably chalks up the progress of gay and lesbian attorneys to Hollywood:

Despite Charney’s lawsuit and several other similar discrimination cases, gay lawyer groups say that most law firms have become more gay-friendly since 1993, when “Philadelphia” moved moviegoers with its portrayal of an attorney fired because he was gay and HIV-positive.

And did you know that since “Brokeback Mountain,” the number of gay ranch hands has increased by 37 percent?

Until recently, in states with anti-sodomy laws such as Virginia, “firms said that they would not hire a gay lawyer,” says D’arcy Kemnitz, the executive director of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association. But in the wake of the Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003, which struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law, things changed. There are now 24 state and regional bar associations for lesbian, gay and transgender lawyers around the country, including in states such as Texas, Wyoming and Missouri.

Yet sexual orientation discrimination persists at many law firms. Eighty-four percent of gay, lesbian and transgender attorneys in Minnesota believe that “bias was a major/moderate problem” at their firms, and 21 percent reported being denied “employment, equal pay, benefits, promotion, etc., due to their sexual orientation,” according to a 2006 survey by the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association.

Gay lawyers face discrimination in Minnesota? Who knew?
Gay Lawyer: Firm Mistreated Me [ABC News]

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